Slow GDP growth reflected locally

By WEEK Producer

April 30, 2014 Updated May 1, 2014 at 12:15 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Business is blooming at Georgette's Flowers. And that's a good thing after what shop owner Lynnette Hacker had to endure this past winter.

"We actually had to close because no one else would be able to make it in here," Hacker said. "We couldn't get to the houses to get things delivered just because of the snow and the weather."

At times, just getting flowers from wholesalers was a chore. But what Hacker's shop experienced was a microcosm of what the national economy went through.

That's reflected in first quarter gross domestic product numbers, which were considerably lower than expected. An anemic growth rate of just point-one percent when economists were anticipating GDP growth of 1-point-1 percent.

At fault, Mother Nature.

"Consumer spending was about three-percent below what was expected," said financial planner Scott Elger of Robert W, Baird. "Three-percent doesn't sound like much but when you look at it across an entire retail sector that means a lot of people stayed home."

But there are also people who think businesses could be better insulated against bad winters, as well as other forces beyond their control.

"If you cut (the business owner's) taxes, he'll be able to hire more people and create more jobs," said Pete Loehr, while enjoying lunch at Peoria eatery The Spotted Cow.

It's a numbers game that everyone has an opinion about.